Penis Gourds and Wood Preservative

(‘Warning’ – those of a delicate disposition should avert their eyes)

a better use for a gourd than those painted lampshades you see in Bodrum

‘The koteka, horim, penis gourd or penis sheath is a phallocrypt or phallocarp traditionally worn by native male inhabitants of some (mainly highland) ethnic groups in New Guinea to cover their genitals.’ So says Wikipedia.

horses for courses

‘But, come on!’ I hear you say; ‘Penis gourds, wood preservative; where’s the connection?’ Bare with me (pun intended), and I’ll blow away the phallacy that there is no connection between the upright members of some New Guinea highland tribes and the floppy staff and customers of a hardware shop in Muğla, Turkey. I am also becoming aware of the fact that certain key words can have an amazing effect on ‘hit’ numbers on a blog! As an aside, we will also shed some light on what Scotsmen wear under their kilts – or not!

Anyway, let’s journey back to the days not long after J and I had moved into our house here in Okçular – I had been doing a lot of DIY; making all sorts of things around the garden, mostly from wood as I hadn’t taught myself to weld at that stage. Wooden structures generally need soaking in something or other to protect them from the predations of weather and insects – ‘Ronseal’ or similar.

Off I went to the hardware shop in neighbouring Dalyan, where my pathetic attempts at mime and pidgin Türkçe led to much exasperated huffing and puffing on my part. Eventually I strung together the two words I thought I needed, ‘Ağaç, ağaç!’ (wood) I bellowed, the better for the shop guy to understand me, ‘Preservative! Ağaç preservative!’

standing proud - native New Guinea men

There was a stunned, open-mouthed response from everyone present – two conservatively dressed young ladies gasped, turned up the collars of their coats and gripped them firmly between their teeth leaving nothing but two pairs of wide, startled eyes visible as they scurried out of the exit doors. The men present suddenly cracked up, going all floppy and holding on to any available surface as tears of laughter streamed down their cheeks. As I stood, embarrassed, in the midst of all this hilarity I could hear the two young ladies outside and out of sight joining in the fun – was it something I’d said?

Eventually, after the staff had regained their composure (it took a while), they managed to suss out what it was I wanted. ‘Ahşap; dekoratif ahşap koruyucu.’ ‘Thank you’ said I as I crept out followed by more splutters from the ladies who had by then ventured back into the shop.

Back home I was attempting to explain to J what had happened when she too collapsed in giggles. ‘Bloody fool,’ she said ‘no wonder they cracked up. Ağaç is what?’ ‘Wood’ said I. ‘And ‘preservative’? Go and look it up; in Turkish it has a ‘z’ and ends with ‘tif’!’ Mumble, mumble. ‘Oh jeez!’ I couldn’t believe it; ‘prezervatif’ in Turkish is . . .

. . . a CONDOM! No wonder the fellows cracked up and even the ladies were giggling; I’d been waving my arms about, including a very wristy action (to simulate painting, people; come on, behave yourselves), and loudly demanding a wooden condom!

So, there you have the link; tenuous it may be but a link non-the-less.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps Scotsmen in kilts do not wear penis gourds, but here is evidence that perhaps they should. No wonder the British Army is going downhill when they can’t even afford knickers let alone decorated penis gourds! Discretion advised.

the pride of Scottish manhood
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16 thoughts on “Penis Gourds and Wood Preservative

  1. Bless you! I witnessed much the same reaction in a restaurant here once when a lady meaning to order “pollo asado” (roast chicken) asked in error for “polla asada” (crispy roast dick) … and that’s no phallacy either 🙂

    1. this language thing can be a real hoot – most of the time! ‘polla asada’, must remember that for our next trip to friends in Spain. ‘Polla asada, polla asada, polla . .’

  2. Sir, you have me blushing. Presumably the Turkish word derives, like so many, from the French préservatifs. I thought the description odd until the AIDS crisis then it made complete sense to me. I notice Her Maj is smiling so I assume she got the joke and the poor man wasn’t hauled off to the Tower. Of course her ancestor, the lecherous old goat, Harry wore the biggest cod piece in the realm. BCSD springs to mind. I notice with my magnifying glass that the young man is cut which from my extensive experience of men north of the border is rare.

    1. Officers of Scottish regiments, along with Lairds all seem to originate from Surrey these days. As for Bluff King Hal and his cod-piece, well, it would be the biggest, wouldn’t it? Brings a whole new meaning to ‘Off with their heads!’

  3. Okay.. when I first began teaching, I had an experience that was nearly as embarrassing. I was teaching the suffix – ish as in – in a way, or like. I had worked out the lesson and made photocopies and all that. As I was passing the copies out to my adult students, I detected a murmur and a gasp and a few other odd sounds. But, trooper as I am, I proceeded. After a quick explanation of how -ish worked and what it meant, we went through the examples.
    Something like..
    1. I don’t have my watch but I think it must be (twelve)
    2. Although George is nearly forty he still looks (young)
    and then I stepped on the bomb…
    3. I had to leave class because I was feeling (sick)

    The girl I called on absolutely refused to answer the question. She kept saying, “Pass!”
    So I called on the next student. Batuhan? Same thing. Finally one student said, “Hocam, I will answer it but can you close the door first?”
    All of this defied my understanding. Eventually we skipped the question and moved on. Later, I was in a tea house with my Turkish friends and I was explaining the strange event to them and they all burst out laughing and guffawing and pounding the table.
    I was left with a big fat question mark over my head.
    One of them finally explained. The word you wanted them to say was….” he gulped, and whispered “sickish.”
    “Yes, so?”
    “Well, you don’t know but the word, “sick” means “penis” in Turkish. and “Ish” means work.”
    “Oh dear.. but..”
    “Together they are a common slang for the sex act. It’s a little rude, actually.”

    When I caught my breath, I thought, “penis-work” equals screwing? I thought that seemed rather sexist. That certainly doesn’t leave much for the woman to do.

  4. To spare any other lost in translation moments just read the side of the tin, it’s normally in English too these days!

    I once had to explain expanding foam at a yapi market and ended up being offered something completely different, it’s on the blog somewhere, from years ago.

    And yes, you will now get a variety of weird and potentially very disappointed visitors to your blog due to the keywords. I try and keep my keywords relevant, I hate to disappoint and one guest post from Jack means I am number one on Google for a term that doesn’t real relate to what I offer 🙂

    K xxxx

  5. I am just getting around to this one and have tears of giggles running down my face from the wood preservative incident to that last photo of “her maj” and the uncut Scott. A much needed laugh. I am stuck thinking on the horror of the ladies in the store – this past summer, on Bozcaada, M. recounted a long and ribald conversation that I missed in the local cay bahcesi, with many ladies present and participating – including one veiled one – the level of ribaldry cannot be repeated by ladylike me but suffice it to say that I am continually stunned by the mix of demure and ribald right out in the open in Turkey – with such house to house, village to village and region to region variation.

    1. @Liz Cameron – Your comment you’re right about the ladies joining in the smutty conversations with gusto – j is a typically blunt Yorkshire type and she is often amazed by the frankness. The complex contradictions can be seen every day in the semi-pornographic national press.

  6. Hilarious! That “preservatif” thing gets a lot of people into trouble. A friend of mine moved to Paris with only a minimal knowledge od French, and in an attampt to discern whether the soup on the menu was fresh or canned she asked ” est-ce qu’il y a des preservatif dans le potage?” To which the waiter deadpanned, “non madam, je crois pas”. İ bet they had a good laugh in the kitchen.

    1. . . difference is wonderful, be it culture, language, whatever. You can see from some of the comments how easy it is to get into hilariously serious trouble.

  7. @Deborah – a friend of mine had a language mishap when he moved to france at age twelve, broke his ringbinder and tried to ask his teacher for a piece of “string” …wondered why she was getting so angry at him and later realised that “string” means thong in french and he probably shouldn’t ask his teacher for her thong…

  8. Hi Deborah and welcome to archers! Language is a hoot, even when both parties think they speak the same version of it.

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